Recently, I had reason to take my SIM out of my primary smartphone and put it in another phone. All of a sudden, I was experiencing mind-boggling internet speeds. The difference in speed blew me away. I was reminded of the fact that 3.5G is not 3.5G. How do I mean? The previous phone in which I had my SIM had an HSDPA (that’s 3.5G) rating of 21 Mbps download speed, while the new one is rated 42 Mbps. Twice the speed. Or more accurately, twice the capacity.
I know for a fact that the average person does not pay too much attention to the network data speed specifications of phones when choosing what device to buy for use. We are mostly satisfied to know that phone has at least 3.5G. Yet, a closer look at the figures will reveal that different phones are differently rated. For example, there are phones rated at 7 Mbps. Then there are those rated 21 Mbps HSDPA. That is thrice the capacity. There are also those rated at 42 Mbps. Your mobile network operator may offer as much as 42 Mbps and you may be able to harness only one-sixth of that speed, depending on your phone.
There are operators in Nigeria that currently offer up 57 Mbps on HSPA+. The question is, Does your phone or modem let you take advantage of that? It isn’t that you will get actual quoted speeds. No subscriber anywhere in the world gets to experience theoretical maximum speeds, but it makes a great difference to have a device that can push the boundaries. If you are looking for the fastest broadband speeds for heavy downloads and uploads, you need to pay closer attention to the data ratings of your devices.
Cost also comes to play. The low-end market will not offer you 42 Mbps, after all the higher you go, the hotter it becomes. Or so they say. Many low-end devices are rated 7 Mbps. Of curse, that isn’t a problem if that is all one can afford.
Here is a quick glossary of some of the most popular 3.5G ratings:
– HSDPA: High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (theoretical download speeds up to 42 Mbps)
– HSPA+: Evolved High Speed Packet Access (theoretical download speeds up to 168 Mbps). Think of HSPA+ as 3.5G on turbo providing 4G speeds. If your network and your device support HSPA+, you are pretty much at par with the person using 4G for the most part.
The smartphone that I recently put my SIM into lets me take advantage of HSPA+ on a network that offers a theoretical maximum of 57 Mbps in downloads. While I do not experience anything close to that maximum speed, its performance simply blows everything else I have seen out of the water. No; 3.5G is not 3.5G.
Here is a little assignment for you: check for the network data rating of your phone. What is its maximum speed capacity? 7 Mbps? 21 Mbps HSDPA? 42 Mbps HSDPA? HSPA+? Questions and comments are welcome.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.